Martha Henry (1938-2021)

1996 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

Martha Henry has the ability "to focus her passion, her intellect, all of her being with the force and clarity of a laser." All of this she transforms at any given moment into whatever it is she is creating. The result is both dazzling and daunting.

A certainty of purpose, with her from early childhood, has infused all her work: as actor, director and teacher. Her high standards and single-minded approach demand the best of others but are also instrumental in helping them achieve it. For her personally, this is "not without its tyrannies". Blessed with self-confidence, she is intensely self-critical. She has performed successfully at the international level in both New York and London, but by choice remained in Canada to create the vast body of her work on stage and in film. She has given Canadians dozens of masterfully-performed roles, including more than twenty seasons at Stratford, where her memorable portrayals of such parts as Cordelia and Goneril in King Lear and Elmire in Molière's Tartuffe, and her recent playing of Mary Cavan Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night have put Canadian theatre on the map and left an indelible impression.

Her total commitment to the country's artistic life is an incalculable gift to her colleagues and her audiences.